Dr. Kluetz on common hockey injuries
"At the professional level, the most commonly injured area of the body is the head, followed by the thighs, knees, shoulders and hands," said Kluetz, sports medicine physician at Community Physician Network at team physician for the Indy Fuel.
Head injuries normally include concussions, lacerations, and tooth injures. Contusions to the thigh are seen often, as are MCL sprains to the knee. Shoulder injuries normally include AC joint sprains (separated shoulders), clavicle (collar bone) fractures, and shoulder dislocations. The most common hand injuries are fractures and contusions.
"The most common mechanism of injury is contact with another player or body checking," said Kluetz. "Injuries are much more likely to occur during a game than practice, and typically occur towards the end of the game due to fatigue."
Recently, professional hockey leagues have eliminated checking from behind and in dangerous situations. At lower levels of the sport, limitations have been put on body checking. Both of these rule changes have significantly decreased the number of injuries seen on the ice.
But, as a sport known for its high energy and contact, Kluetz said it is important that players take the necessary precautions to prevent injury. Equipment and conditioning are two of the best ways to do this.
"Wearing quality, well-fitting and appropriate equipment is important for injury prevention," he said. "And a well-conditioned athlete who focuses on fitness, flexibility and strength will be less fatigued during a game, and less susceptible to injury."
Kluetz reminds coaches and officials that they can also make the game safer by enforcing rules and closely watching players.
"Teaching, and reminding, players to keep their 'heads up' while skating is important in limiting the number of serious head and neck injuries."
For more information about sports injuries and how to seek treatment, visit our sports medicine website.
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Community Health Network is the official sports medicine provider to the Indy Fuel professional hockey franchise for its inaugural 2014-2015 season. Community Sports Medicine physicians and athletic trainers will provide medical support during the Indy Fuel’s games at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
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